I start my day like most days. Taking my kids to school and then rushing to the gym for a class. This day, I was early to the gym. I was in the bathroom when someone I vaguely know came in. Our only connection being a town that is surrounded by dirt fields and family that has never left. She began with small talk and then asked me how I was feeling. I said, "fine", being trivialized by the question and sudden empathy in front of her friend...when my few previous experiences with her held no details of my life at all. She asked me again, almost insisting I give her a different answer.
I'm not completely sure, but I think she was referring to my condition 7 years ago. I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease of my nervous system. I was physically debilitated for years. Besides the pain, what I remember the most is how lonely that time in my life was. It seemed a handful of friends rallied behind me. But I genuinely grieved the loss of friendship along with the activity of my former life. I remember trying to get out of my house to do the normal life things. I remember feeling my legs move but my feet never hit the ground. I remember how unbearable the stares of strangers where but even more unbearable to cry in front of them. I remember the men in my family holding me up to walk those distances and being able to sort of hide behind their stature so as not witness people talking about the strange way that I now walked. I remember sitting down to eat at a restaurant and being so out of breath, hoping I wouldn't have to use the bathroom while I was there. It felt too vulnerable to walk past those people again. It felt impossible to walk that distance two more times.
I felt the cold water run on my hands as I decided how to answer her. Contemplating how far I have actually come, and how little I have actually ever talked about it. I decided that
" fine" was a sufficient answer again. I changed the subject and dried my hands. As I walked across the gym floor, I took in how strong I actually felt. I noted how much I love loading my legs up with weight and feeling the resistance of the floor beneath me. Something I thought of but never knew would be possible again. I remembered the mountain that I climbed to be there. Completely humbled by it, because it almost took me out. More than once it revealed its strength...and somehow I rose up stronger. At times crawling towards the summit, however slow...through gritted teeth and tears, it was forward.
You see...when a woman climbs a mountain, she doesn't just weather the elements, she doesn't just survive the terrain, she carves the mountain into a monument. Every tear...every drop of sweat...every ounce of blood shed outlines its form. Marring her soul so that it is something to marvel at, to encourage, to inspire strength in more women, and to remind herself how much she is actually capable of.
Actually I'm not just fine...I think that I am better than I was before it all happened.